NatWest has launched a paperless mortgage allowing borrowers to arrange their mortgage or remortgage entirely online for the first time.
The online service is the first from a UK lender and comes ahead of sweeping regulatory change among the banks, designed to make it easier for customers to transact online.
NatWest customers can now apply for a home loan online, upload and share all relevant documentation – including bank statements and personal identification – and sign documents digitally.
NatWest is aiming to roll out the digital service to its 800 in-branch advisers year end
All NatWest mortgages applied for over the phone will also be offered paper-free, which the lender claims will save nearly four and a half million sheets of paper a year.
The lender is also aiming to roll out the digital service to its 800 in-branch advisers by the end of the year.
Lloyd Cochrane, director of mortgages at NatWest and RBS, said: ‘This will make the process of buying a new home much simpler, easier and faster for our customers, transforming the way homes are purchased in the UK.’
How does it work?
Customers fill in a few simple details relating to their income and expenditure online in order to find out what they should be able borrow.
If you decide to go ahead, then in advance of a call with a mortgage adviser, you’ll be able to upload the documents required for an application, including a driving licence, passport and payslips through a secure online portal.
There are several security measures in place, including two-step ID verification and visual identity verification using two ‘selfies’ taken with your phone, tablet or computer’s camera.
A telephone call or online video call with a mortgage adviser will then be arranged at a convenient time for you, during which your allocated adviser will guide you through the application process.
It’s also possible for the adviser to highlight key parts of text in documents and help you with any questions through screen sharing.
Final documents can be signed electronically using a mouse or tablet.
How does it compare?
NatWest is the first bank to offer completely paperless mortgages to all customers who are purchasing as well as remortgaging – even if they’re coming to NatWest from another lender.
Other lenders do have slick online services, but they’re usually restricted in some way – for example, you can use the online paperless service from Santander only if you’re an existing customer remortgaging from a deal with the same lender.
There are a few mortgage brokers that offer ‘online’ mortgages, but the reality of these services at the moment is that they still require you to submit various documents in paper form because lenders require it.
You can compare the online mortgage brokers here.
One important thing to note is that if you go to NatWest directly, you’re obviously only going to be given mortgage deals offered by NatWest.
By contrast, independent mortgage brokers allow you to compare mortgage rates and offers from nearly all lenders in the market, meaning you’ll have access to the best rates.
That said, NatWest’s rates are reasonably competitive, though not the cheapest on the market.
This is Money verdict
This service is the first of its kind and at This is Money, we’re supportive of anything that improves choice for customers.
For the digitally savvy, it’s a pretty slick experience that only goes offline if you opt to talk to your adviser over the phone. If you choose the video call, it is a completely online process.
Removing the need for endless exchanges of printed bank statements and payslips, as well as being able to verify ID online rather than posting passports or having to take them into branch to be checked should also allow for much quicker processing times.
Indeed, NatWest’s head of mortgages, Mr Cochrane, claims the new online system means it shouldn’t ever take longer than 30 days to complete a remortgage application, with the digitalisation cutting around 10 days off the traditional application-to-offer timeframe.
Whether this bears out remains to be seen, but 30 days is an improvement on the time it can take some lenders to process a remortgage application.
There is one caveat: digital security is a big and growing concern for all consumers who transact online, so it will be vital for the bank to ensure its security systems are up to scratch.
True cost mortgage calculator
This mortgage payment calculator will allow you to see the effect of sneaky arrangement fees on your repayments. Use the second part of the calculator to compare deals.